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Slating and Focus


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#1 Duca Simon Luchini

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Posted 11 October 2015 - 08:54 AM

Hi everybody,

there are some great thread about slating but my question is just little different. Right now I'm trying to use Slate for my personal work in VIDEO (I mean: Camera that record audio and video together and "One band Filmmaker" or very small crew). Anyway, this problem is about all of types of crew...

What happens is that I can not preserve the right focus after slating or better, I make the right focus for my scene but when the slate cover my framing, It is almost always out of focus.

So, what is wrong? I mean:

1- should I  focus on slate and than refocus the scene? :blink: (I don't think...);

2- Should I travelling  back and forth in front of the Cameras until I find the right focus ? :angry:

3- Should I slate where I founf the right focus in the scene? But in this case (wide shots cases...) the slate could be to small... :unsure:

 

help please!  :o

 

thanks!

 


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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 11 October 2015 - 09:07 AM

Generally if you had a crew the 1AC would pull focus to the slate then rack back to the scene.


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#3 Cem Ali

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Posted 11 October 2015 - 09:38 AM

It all depends on your gut at that moment in the set and the tools you are using and the lens you are shooting with. If I have a follow focus that has a gap when pulling focus I don't rack to the slate and back to the character. This situation only applies when shooting with wider lenses than 50 mm.

When shooting narrower than 50 mm, I always focus on the slate and then rack to the character.

Your job as a focus puller is to have your character in focus. Moreover, your other duty is to give a focus slate so that asistant editor can do his job.

Best regards,

Erol roni Beraha
Focuspuller
Istanbul
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 October 2015 - 10:35 AM

The slate should be readable... so obviously you need to rack focus to it if it isn't going to be sharp enough to read. Readability is same reason why the slate should be close enough to the lens.

 

You could pre-slate each shot if you are by yourself, the only problem there in digital is that the slate is on a separate clip.


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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 11 October 2015 - 11:12 AM

You can also tail slate after the fact so long as you recall to do it. And if you're on double system so long as the sound guy can do it. I suppose if you were single system audio you could slate a whole series of things and then just change for the next set of clips as they'll all be sequentially numbered.


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#6 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 11 October 2015 - 11:56 AM

A lot of consumer video cameras and DSLR lenses have servo driven focus. So the focus ring just spins and spins and spins, making it almost impossible to do repeatable focus. This is where a repeatable focus lens and follow focus are so handy.

With a repeatable focus (mechanical focus) lens, you simply mark the focus for your shot with a dry erase marker or grease pencil on the follow focus ring, then when you back it off to find focus for the slate, you can easily go right back again and it's guaranteed to be right.

I did a feature not long ago with DSLR glass and that was one of the biggest problems. We resolved by simply putting the slate next to actors in the shot, so all the operator had to do was pan over slightly and the slate would be in focus. Then the slate was in focus AND properly lit using the same light the actors were using.

If you're shooting by yourself, you can easily lock down the camera and do this yourself. I've done it a lot, especially when shooting MOS B unit stuff where I had no help, but still needed a slate to identify the shot.
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#7 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 11 October 2015 - 01:42 PM

What happens is that I can not preserve the right focus after slating or better, I make the right focus for my scene but when the slate cover my framing, It is almost always out of focus.
So, what is wrong? I mean:
1- should I  focus on slate and than refocus the scene?
 


This is what professional crews do. This is usually simple because they have a dedicated 1st AC pulling focus and they use cinema lenses with repeatable focus marks. There are other types of professional shooting like news and one-man band where a slate is not used because it is inconvenient or unnecessary.

So if you want to slate in the same way on your own with autofocus lenses that were not designed for this style of working, then your options are:

1. Focus for the slate and then refocus for the scene, using muscle memory in your hand and a sharp monitor to find the correct focus.

2. Set the focus for the scene and zoom in on the lens so you can fill the frame with the slate and then zoom out for the scene.

3. Tail slate - roll sound and video, shoot the scene, and then bring in the slate, refocus, and then cut. Professional crews do this all the time when they are shooting a sensitive scene where the slate might distract the actor, or for stunts.

4. Don't slate. If you are recording audio on the camera with the picture, then you don't really need one for sync - at that point it's just for easy identification. So you can call out an audio slate noting the scene and take number after you roll. That will help you find the shot later while editing.
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#8 Duca Simon Luchini

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Posted 12 October 2015 - 02:04 AM

Great guys,

very useful suggestions!

Of course, my question was about One man band filmmaker or very small crew.

 

I thing is great to use follow focus and note the right focus for the Slate and for the scene to be able to come back to it after Slate focus. There is a great reasons to make it when you are alone, because you can check slate focus if you are on frot of the camera with the slate in your hand! :D

 

Great is also slate at the end of shot, before "Cut", as Satsuki said. 

 

Many thanks to all!  B)


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#9 Simon Wyss

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Posted 12 October 2015 - 03:52 AM

If you don’t like to change a focus setting, a big slate might help,

say a board of 6 by 8 feet that’s handled by two additional assistants. :lol:


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#10 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 12 October 2015 - 04:09 AM

If your not doing separate sound,and only one camera..as it would seem so as a one man crew.. can you not just do an audio slate to an on board camera mic.. ?.. if your purpose is just to ID the shots.. ?


Edited by Robin R Probyn, 12 October 2015 - 04:10 AM.

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#11 Duca Simon Luchini

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 12:35 AM

If you don’t like to change a focus setting, a big slate might help,

say a board of 6 by 8 feet that’s handled by two additional assistants. :lol:

Great! :lol:


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#12 Duca Simon Luchini

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 12:37 AM

If your not doing separate sound,and only one camera..as it would seem so as a one man crew.. can you not just do an audio slate to an on board camera mic.. ?.. if your purpose is just to ID the shots.. ?

I was to make a little practise with set system but... (also I wanted to learn to my sons how exactly happens on set about slating). ;)


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#13 John E Clark

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 10:57 AM

Having no ability to 'follow focus' to get accurate refocusing after using a slate... I've just gotten the slate person to stand at a point where I can read the 'blurry' info, see the snap for two sound setups, and moved on.

 

In cases were the subjects are distant, perhaps using lavs, I've asked the slater to be close to the talent, and still readable, even if I would have to got to 200% on my NLE to 'read' the slate, and see the snap, and match that with the lavs recording.

 

Another item is getting the slater's call of the shot on the microphones/lavs as well.

 

Because I and the groups I have worked with are often unknowledgeable about actual real™ pro set practice, there may not be a script person to make notes of camera shot numbers or recording id's, etc. so it does take a certain amount of discipline to make sure all the media can be identified and matched up...

 

I have seen 'plural' eyes or the like 'work' but I've also seen people spend more time than it seemed to be worth matching up things that should have been marked in the first place.


Edited by John E Clark, 13 October 2015 - 11:01 AM.

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#14 Duca Simon Luchini

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 12:39 AM

Well said John,

I've seen very common cases where there is NOT time to refocus cause the actor start soon to play after the slate.

See for example this funny video: 

http://www.bhphotovi...ating-technique

(At second 2:10 slate is very far... and in many cases Actors start to play before slating...!)

 

I also read a great tip in another (old) post here, which suggested to: "place the slate in the right positions for different lenses. (ie 5ft away for 50mm, 2ft for 20mm, 100ft for 100mm, etc.)". Here we can read a recent article which gives furthers tips about where to place slate for focus:

 

I quote the last part of the article:

"Where to put the slate

The general rule of thumb is to place the slate directly in front of the lens, and then move it away from the lens 1 foot for every 10mm of lens. So if there is a 50mm lens on the camera, place the slate about five feet away from the front of the lens. This rule of thumb is based on 35mm motion picture cameras, so one may have to make some adjustments when using cameras with different-sized sensors, but with a little practice it will become second nature."

 

http://www.bhphotovi...ating-technique

 

Bye!


Edited by Duca, 14 October 2015 - 12:41 AM.

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#15 Duca Simon Luchini

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 01:08 AM

Sorry guys,

I'd like to add just only further observation: Normally what we have to say in slate procedure should be something like this:

 

Film Shoot   
AD calls "roll sound"
    
Sound mixer calls "speed" when the recorder is running
    
Camera assistant calls "scene ___, take ___"
     
AD calls "roll camera"
    
Camera operator calls "mark it" when camera is running
     
Camera assistant calls "marker" and claps sticks
     
Director calls "action"
     
Actors go through the scene
    
Director calls "cut" to break the action
     

Video Shoot
     
AD calls "roll tape"
     
Camera operator calls "speed"
    
Camera assistant calls "scene ___, take ___, Marker!”  and claps sticks
  
Director calls "action"
     
Actors go through the scene
     
Director calls, "cut" to break the action
 

 

But really does it happen? Because, e.g., I didn't hear any "Action" after the slate procedure in all demonstrative videos  about "How to slate on set". And often I didn0t hear any "Marker" at the end of slate procedure... :wacko:

 

Shortly, in real productions what really happen?(Or better, how crew shorts the "academic slate procedures" in a shorter formula, as the mythic "Lights, Camera, Action!" (http://www.theblacka...hollywood-myth/). :D

 

Thanks for a reply, of course.


Edited by Duca, 14 October 2015 - 01:17 AM.

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#16 Duca Simon Luchini

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 01:09 AM

Well said John,

I've seen very common cases where there is NOT time to refocus cause the actor start soon to play after the slate.

See for example this funny video: 

(At second 2:10 slate is very far... and in many cases Actors start to play before slating...!)

 

I also read a great tip in another (old) post here, which suggested to: "place the slate in the right positions for different lenses. (ie 5ft away for 50mm, 2ft for 20mm, 100ft for 100mm, etc.)". Here we can read a recent article which gives furthers tips about where to place slate for focus:

 

I quote the last part of the article:

"Where to put the slate

The general rule of thumb is to place the slate directly in front of the lens, and then move it away from the lens 1 foot for every 10mm of lens. So if there is a 50mm lens on the camera, place the slate about five feet away from the front of the lens. This rule of thumb is based on 35mm motion picture cameras, so one may have to make some adjustments when using cameras with different-sized sensors, but with a little practice it will become second nature."

 

http://www.bhphotovi...ating-technique

 

Bye!

I only change the first wrong link...!


Edited by Duca, 14 October 2015 - 01:11 AM.

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#17 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 02:36 AM

"Action" is the cue for the actors, unless you're shooting a docementary.


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#18 Duca Simon Luchini

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 04:06 AM

"Action" is the cue for the actors, unless you're shooting a docementary.

:blink: ??? What do you mean exactly?


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#19 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 05:15 AM

There is a routine for a shot, the sound and cameras call speed, the AC marks the shot and clears (sometimes the camera operator may call set - more a Steadicam thing) then the director calls "action" for the actors or whatever to do their thing.

 

For documentaries the slate may be done in a low profile manner without stopping whatever is happening, it may just be a mic tap.


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#20 Duca Simon Luchini

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 07:51 AM

Ah okay,

thanks! "Action" from Director should comes always after the slate, but it reasonable that it is omitted in specific scene where actor must keep a great concentration.  In these cases, when AC slate in means "Action" as well... and I find it a great idea.


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